Puerto Maldonado is a city in Southeastern Peru. Its located in the Amazon forest 55 kilometres (34 mi) west of the Bolivian border on the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios River, a tributary of the Amazon River. It is the capital of the Madre de Dios Region.
Gold panning on the Tampobamba and Madre de Dios rivers, and the latex boom at the end of the past century, determined the foundation of the city of Puerto Maldonado. Today, Madre de Dios, the old Inca Antisuyo, is still what It has been -for centuries- for all adventure lovers: a virgin and frontier land full of mysteries.
Due to the fact that Its virgin forest covers 98% of the territory, Madre de Dios has the most varied bio-diversity of the world.
Puerto Maldonado is one of the most important cities of the Southern jungle. It sits on the banks of the Madre de Dios river, which connects it with Rivera Alto in Bolivia (a 5-hour trip to the border, by river) and with Assis, in Brazil (242 km/150 miles),
The department’s capital is a dynamic, young and bustling frontier city. The main economic activities are forestry and gold panning, although farming and the ecological tourism are being developed.
Cradle of Ecological Places
Here we can found several reservation like The Manu, Tambopata-Candamo and Pampas de Heath reserves cover 3’500,000 jungle hectares (8’645,000 acres), the largest and richest blo-diversity of the world. They keep unique flora and fauna species, impossible to find elsewhere, including 2,500 flower varieties, more than 1,000 birds (10% of the world’s species,) 900 butterfly species and more than 20 kinds of monkeys.
Near Puerto Maldonado, there are several attractions such as the Sandoval and Valencia lakes, next to the Bolivian border (by river, 4 hours from the city), These wonderful places give the tourist the opportunity to fish, be close to nature, and be in contact with native
There are several lodges which offer very Interesting eco-touristic services. These lodges, although rustic, are suited to provide the vlsitors’ requirements. There is also a private Investigation center In the area.
The weather is cold and dry in the highlands, warm in the valleys, cold and humid in the cloudy forest and, warm and humid in the lower jungle. The rainy or ‘winter” season runs from December to March, and the summer or dry season (ideal for tourism), from April to November.
TOURIST SITES OF PUERTO MALDONADO
Bahuaja Sonene National Park
Created on July 17th, 1996, this National Park includes part of the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Area and the territory of the old Pampas del Heath National Sanctuary.
The area offers great potential for the protection of species since there are no permanent human settlements; so there are species found here which are extinct in other areas of the Amazon, such as the “sachavaca” or tapir (Tapirus terrestris) and the “maquisapa” or spider monkey (Ateles Paniscus).
In Bahuaja-Sonene, mammals like the marsh deer (Odocoileus dichotomus) and the biggest canine in the Amazon, the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), are protected. The park is also a refuge for birds, as it is home to 450 species, 17 of which are endemic to Peru.
Colpa de Guacamayos de Colorado
Is located strategically as opposed to the Clay lick and we will appreciate the beautiful spectacle with the arrival of parakeets, parrots, and Macaws of blue and yellow (ara ararauna), Scarlet Macaw and Ara Macaw.
Manu Biosphere Reserve
Manu is located in a beautiful and entirely unspoiled corner of south eastern Peru. The area of the park encompasses parts of the Andean department of Cusco and the jungle department of Madre de Dios jungle. Manu protects 18,811 sq km of territory rich in flora and fauna species in a variety of habitats including high Andes, cloud forests, and lowland tropical rain forests.
This natural paradise is officially recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. In 1977 they designated Manu as a World Biosphere Reserve because it contains the best existing example of bio-diversity in protected areas of rain forest, as well as endemic areas of cloud forest. Manu is internationally acclaimed as one of the most biodiverse areas on earth.
The majority of forests in the world have been altered by humans. Fortunately, Manu has remained intact and untouched by civilization. It is therefore possible to observe a variety of animals in their natural habitats, including: Giant Otters, Black Caiman, the majestic Jaguar, the strange Spectacled Bear, the Tapir, the Ocelot, 13 species of monkey, and an estimated one thousand species of birds.
Manu also contains 10% of the world’s vascular plant species, including several species of figs and palms; as well as countless species of medicinal plants that scientists are currently cataloguing. A single hectare of forest in Manu can have up to 220 species of trees; while a hectare of temperate forest in Europe or North America may only have 20 tree species.
The place called “Colpa” of the Macaws is one of the biggest attractions in Manu. Its a mineral-rich earth formation, which numerous wild animals -among them the noisy, colourful macaws – feed on to supplement their normal diet.
The Biosphere Reserve is divided into 3 separate zones:
1. Core Zone or National Park (15,328 sq km)
This region is strictly preserved in its natural state, where a number of indigenous tribes reside. Only government sponsored biologists and anthropologists may visit with permits from the Ministry of Agriculture.
2. Experimental or Reserved Zone (2,570 sq km)
This area is set aside for controlled scientific research and ecotourism. Entry to the reserved zone is accessible by permit only. Entry is strictly controlled and visitors must visit the area with an authorized guide. The only accommodation in the Reserve Zone is in the comfortable (and expensive) Manu Lodge or in safari-style camps.
3. Cultural Zone (914 sq km)
This zone is set aside for two nomadic native groups, where locals still employ their traditional way of life. The cultural zone is accessible to anyone and several companies offer lodge based tours within this zone
Valencia Lake is located at 60 km (37.3 ml) from Puerto Maldonado. In the four hour ride on motor boat it is possible to see gold seekers working at the bank of the Madre de Dios river; the native settlements of the Huarayos; and a great variety of flora and fauna. The lake holds corvinas, dorados, doncellas, among other fish species. The most representative native communities located in this region are the Amaralari, Arasaeri, Kisambaeri, Pukirieri, Sapiteri, Toyoeri, Wachipari, Arawak, Machiguenga and Piro-Mashko.
Sandoval Lake is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful lakes in Peru, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. It is also a true surprise so close to major civilization – because of the ease of getting there and the ease of being there, and yet the wildlife experience far exceeds most rainforests.
Sandoval Lake has one of the largest, and most accessible, populations of endangered Giant Otters in Peru. Once widespread throughout South America, the Giant Otter was hunted nearly to extinction and is now one of the most vulnerable mammals on the continent. Yet Sandoval Lake has a thriving and healthy population, and from the comfort and stability of catamarans these powerful predators can be observed as they fish and frolic in the lake.
Enormous Black Caiman and 10-foot-long Paiche, the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world, join the otters as residents of the lake. From a stable catamaran platform, guests have the opportunity to see these, as well as a host of colorful birdlife, as they are paddled around the lake.
Drift through a flooded forest of 100-foot-tall Mauritia palms, as large groups of Red-bellied Macaws swirl overhead in a cacophony of sound. Watch playful Brown Capuchin and Titi monkeys as they forage through the palms along the edge of the lake, and groups of 50 or more Squirrel Monkeys as they chatter and leap through the trees above. And after the sun sets, experience the nocturnal life of the lake beneath a star-filled sky as the Black Caiman emerge to hunt on the lake.
Tambopata Candamo National Reserve
Tambopata-Candamo Reserve is located in the department of Madre de Dios, just half an hour’s plane ride from Cusco. In this amazing biological reserve, three different ecosystems converge together: the Amazonian plain, the eastern slopes of the Andes and the Pampas ecosystem. This environmental diversity had allowed at least 11 different types of forests to co-exist leading to an incredible biodiversity.
The number of species identified until now have truly scored world records: 1,234 types of butterflies, 592 species of birds, 152 varieties of dragonflies, 135 kinds of ants, 127 species of amphibians, 103 types of mammals, 94 species of fish, 74 kinds of reptiles, 40 species of termites and 39 varieties of bees. Exists also 5 species of turtles and tortoises, 4 of crocodile and 22 of small lizard. Finally 94 species of fish have also been identified!
Amongst these are 13 endangered species including the jaguar (panthera onca), the giant otter (pteronura brasilensis), the ocelot (felis pardalis), the harpy eagle (harpia harpyja) and the giant armadillo (priodentes giganteus).
Another of Tambopata-Candamo’s attractions is the richness of its flora, as nearly 1400 species exist in the area. Indeed two 1 hectare sections of the reserve have been identified as amongst the richest pieces of land in the world, with one of them boasting 187 species of trees with a diameter greater than 2.5 centimeters, and the second one 207 species of plants, including trees, vines, bushes and aerophytes.
One of the highlights of the reserve is the Colpa de Guacamayos which is one of the largest natural clay licks in Peru. These copper-colored cliffs attract thousands of macaws and parrots each day who come to feed on the mineral salts contained in this area.
The Tambopata-Candamo Reserve can only be accessed by boat, usually from the town of Puerto Maldonado the capital of the Madre de Dios department. There are daily flights from Puerto Maldonado to and from Cusco usually arriving and departing early in the morning.